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Definition - What does Answer mean?

An answer is the defendant’s written response to the complaint of a plaintiff in a civil case. All answers must be filed within a specific number of days from the date the defendant received the complaint, generally 30 days. The answer should provide factual or legal evidence which counters the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injury or loss.

What do I do if I am sued?

After you have been served with the Summons and Complaint from the plaintiff in a civil case you will generally have 30 days to provide an answer or response to the complaint.

Talk to the court to determine if there are special forms you will need to file. If you fail to respond to the Summons and Complaint the court can enter a default judgment against you. You also will lose your right to defend yourself in court.

In some cases, you may also be able to contact the plaintiff directly and resolve the complaint without taking the case to court. For example, if you have been sued by a creditor you may contact them and attempt to negotiate a repayment plan.

What if I need an extension to construct my answer?

If you do not believe you can complete the answer within the statute of limitations you must negotiate an extension with the plaintiff or their lawyer; the court will not be able to grant you an extension in a civil case.

How do I complete the Answer form?

If the court provides an answer form they will also provide information about how to correctly complete it. First, read the complaint very carefully. Make sure you understand what relief is requested by the plaintiff.

Next, review the information you will have to provide, including your name, address, telephone number, the name of the plaintiff, case number, and information about the case. Review each allegation.

All allegations or statements will be listed in consecutive order and you will have to respond to each one, using the exact number used in the complaint. All answers should be brief but accurate. Information provided in the answer can be used against you.

When responding to the allegations you can agree with them by answering “Admitted” or you can disagree by answering “Denied”. You can also respond that you do not have enough information to respond to the allegation. You can also agree with part of the allegation and disagree with part of it. If this is the case your response can be “admitted in part and denied in part”.

Exhibits and additional documentation can also be attached to your answer to substantiate your claims. Defendants may also have their own claims against the plaintiff which can be stated in their answer.

Do I need a lawyer to help write my Answer?

Due to the legal complexity of completing the answer it may be a good idea to discuss your case with a lawyer. After you have completed the form, you must sign it and mail a copy to the Plaintiff or the Plaintiff’s attorney. You must also file a copy with the Clerk of Court in the county in which the plaintiff filed their claim. The copy can be mailed, but it may be a good idea to hand deliver the answer and get a time stamped copy of the document for your own records.

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